By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
All the boys were on the bus when it pulled away from Interior Savings Centre and headed for Everett on Wednesday.
The Kamloops Blazers were to spend last night in Everett and arrive in Portland today in time for a practice. They are to open the WHL’s best-of-seven Western Conference final against the Winterhawks at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Friday.
Goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who missed practice on Tuesday as he left the team to attend a funeral, was back on the ice yesterday before the team headed south. He has started each of the Blazers’ first 10 playoff games and will be in goal on Friday.
Left-winger Tim Bozon, who has missed seven games since suffering a fracture in his right hand on March 26, also was on the bus. Head coach Guy Charron said yesterday that Bozon may play in Game 1. The recovery time for this type of injury is in the area of four weeks, though, so Bozon may not play until later in the series.
Portland G Mac Carruth, who has started all 10 of his club’s playoff games, earned a speeding ticket on Tuesday.
When asked if teammates would consider contributing to help Carruth pay the fine, forward Ty Rattie said: “No, no, no, he’s got enough money from that NHL contract.”
Carruth, a seventh-round selection by Chicago in the 2010 NHL draft, has signed with the Blackhawks.
Travis Green, the Winterhawks’ interim general manager and head coach, isn’t at all concerned with whatever the Blazers are thinking as the series begins.
“I don’t really know how Kamloops feels,” he said. “If they feel they’re the favourite or not the favourite, doesn’t matter to me. They have a good hockey team. They had a good year.
“People talk about them pushing us to seven games last year in the second round, and they did. It was a good series. But it doesn’t mean anything one way or the other. It has no bearing on the outcome of this year’s series.”
The Blazers were down 3-0 in games and 4-0 on the scoreboard in Game 4 last spring when JC Lipon delivered a stiff check to Rattie. Lipon scored shortly thereafter and the Blazers went on to win the game. Rattie ended up going to hospital and, although he didn’t miss any games, had a neck injury.
But there aren’t any hard feelings.
“It wasn’t even a bad hit, it was just the way I got hit,” Rattie said. “It was awkward. I know JC. I played on Team Canada with him this winter. . . . We’re friends off the ice and nothing bad is going to spill between him and me for sure.”
Rattie, who is from Airdrie, Alta., also said he and Cheveldave, a Calgarian, are long-time rivals.
“I’ve played against him all my life. We’ve played against each other since I was about 11,” Rattie says.
Rattie also admitted that he is expecting a long series.
“They’re a very good hockey club,” he stated. “This series is going to go six or seven games, for sure, I think. They’ve got good offence, with good top defencemen. They’re big, they’re physical. It’s going to be pretty evenly matched.
“It’s going to be a fun one.”
JUST NOTES: Game 2 will be played in Portland on Saturday, with Games 3 and 4 at ISC on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Rattie goes into the series with 41 career playoff goals. That ties him with F Reg Leach (Flin Flon, 1967-70), behind only F Mark Pederson (Medicine Hat, 1983-88), who scored 47 postseason goals. . . . Rattie has 78 playoff points, fifth on the alltime list. Ahead of him are F Dale Derkatch, 101 (Regina, 1982-85); D Greg Hawgood, 100 (Kamloops, 1983-88); F Rob Brown, 86 (Kamloops, 1983-87); and, F Brad Moran, 82 (Calgary, 1995-2000). . . . The Eastern Conference final opens tonight with the Calgary Hitmen in Edmonton to face the defending-champion Oil Kings. That series will be televised by Shaw, with Dan Russell calling the play.
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